Achieving Freedom by Kyle Gray

Publisher’s NoteThis is my son’s first post.  He is currently waiting to start his MS program in Mechanical Engineering this fall in our beloved Idaho.  I am proud to say that it was my son that ushered me down the path from minarchism to anarchism.  I know that fathers are known to exaggerate but Kyle is an intellectual force of nature and I prize his insights and out-of-the-box thinking.  I look forward to many more contributions in the future. -BB

This is an address to the libertarian-anarchist movement.  If you remain unconvinced of the merits of a stateless society, if you insist that even some problems can only be solved with violence, please move along, continue your daily routine. This is not for you.

Part I: To Achieve Freedom, We Must Build It

For as long as I have been a libertarian, the movement has exhibited a common theme.  We spend an enormous amount of energy attempting to convince people of the merits of a free society.  We argue, plead, and beg people, like a cheap whore on a Las Vegas street corner, to understand that freedom is the only ethical and effective solution to our problems.  It is – without a doubt. The godfathers of our ideology have indisputably won the argument for freedom.  Spooner, Bastiat, Mises, Rothbard, [David & Patri] Friedman, I salute you.

But the problem is, this is all we do.  We work tirelessly to convert people to the cause.  Let me be very clear: we are failing by an enormous margin.  Sheep are walking off the public school assembly line at a much faster rate than we are converting.  Yet just like philosophers, we stand idly by pleading our neighbors to accept our beliefs.  What do libertarians think will happen if we are able to convert a majority of the world population?  Will a free society suddenly appear as the state collapses around it?  If Ron Paul is elected president, will the majority of the population suddenly accept freedom as it is thrust upon them?

The majority of our movement has become so obsessed with why we should be free, we have completely ignored how we will become free.  If we want freedom, we must stop trying to explain it, and we must start showing the world what it is.  And in order to show what freedom is, we must build free institutions.  The state uses violence and force to claim the sole right to provide services that might otherwise be provided voluntarily.  The state has many guns, and there is great risk to compete with them, but nonetheless we still have the ability.  And we can find ways to do so in a way that minimizes the risk to our life and maximizes our ability to create freedom.  The state will not collapse until people can physically see better solutions.

Further reading:

Part II: Reputation, or How We Can Provide Consequences for Bad Behavior When The State Won’t

Here’s where the ambiguity ends, and I provide you with an example of what building a free institution means.

For the average a-political citizen, the government’s job is to provide consequences for bad behavior.  If you murder someone, the justice system’s job is to put you in jail.  But as we know so very well, the united states justice system is inherently corrupt and will never objectively provide consequences for unethical or immoral behavior, especially against its own.  But the average citizen has not seen alternative solutions to providing consequences for bad behavior, and so when he perceives failure in the justice system, his only recourse – so far as he see it – is to protest.  Perhaps if he is motivated enough he will becomes politically involved and attempt to reform the system.  History has proved this never works.

Now.  Take a breath, close your eyes and imagine this scenario.  A member of the SWAT team responsible for the murder of Jose Guerena walks up to the door of his local grocery store in Tucson.  There on the glass is his picture, and underneath reads, “your business is not welcome here.”

In a stateless society, reputation will be king.  When Joe Citizen makes a purchase from Ebay, does he expect a three letter government agency to protect him against fraud?  Of course not!  Ebay built a system of reputation and feedback.  The consequences of fraud are of course that everyone knows, and very few people will want to purchase from you in the future.  In this situation, profit is an incentive not to commit fraud.  We are not philosophizing about freedom here – we are simply observing what is.  And no one had to walk around and convince half the population that it would be safe to buy from random strangers on the internet.  It was built, it was seen, and lots of people took a rational risk to participate.

The lesson to be learned from Ebay is that reputation can be used to provide consequences for bad behavior.  And we can do it today, instead of wandering around waiting for the state to collapse.  We can scroll through the archives of Radley Balko’s blog, and find the name of every cop who has beaten, tazed, and murdered an innocent, and we can use local resources to find their addresses, phone numbers, and emails.  And then we can build a network of libertarian business owners, and convince them to stop doing business with evil people.

The founder and CEO of PayPal, Peter Thiel, is such a dedicated libertarian he donated half a million to the Seasteading project.  What if we could convince him to blacklist these people?  If Visa/Mastercard can deny service to WikiLeaks, why can’t PayPal deny service to thieves and murderers? What would happen if upon cursory inspection of some one’s Ebay profile you wished to purchase from, you noticed a comment identifying them as a police officer involved in the beating of an innocent child?  Would you purchase from someone like that?  Of course simply denying business to murderers isn’t the worst of consequences, but it is a start.

If you find yourself saying, “It will never work … “, “The state will simply fight back”, or “it’s too risky,” then I implore you, stop reading.  Go back to your TV and remain a complacent libertarian.  Keep trying to convince your friends that freedom is the way while the state rapes and pillages your neighbors without consequence.  Keep begging the mafia to change their ways.

I have only provided you with an example of how we can work to achieve freedom.  Maybe I am completely wrong.  But this much is clear to me:  We must stop working to convince people of freedom, and we must start talking about how we can build it, how we can achieve it.  We will not wake up one day and be free.  We will not find freedom, it will not appear in the ashes of a fallen state.  We must physically show people peaceful alternatives.  It is the only way we will achieve freedom.

13 thoughts on “Achieving Freedom by Kyle Gray”

  1. A brilliant idea using the Guerena experience. It ties in nicely with the work of the anonymous computer hackers.

    It seems a powerful strategy for businesses to post pictures of the cops that overstep.

    I think there is value to continue to spread the liberty truth even among sheeples whose indoctrination is deep-rooted. Deprogramming may not take place in their lifetime and we need not waste our time, but it certainly a seed needs to be planted before it can grow. With a bit of luck, sheeples that experience the pain of slavery will find that seed and start watering it. With more luck, the seed will grow to un-root the ugly roots of the mind that we call slavery.

  2. I am already doing this in my little town. I am shunning a couple of people (government employees) and have convinced a few to join me. It’s small, but it’s a start.

  3. No wonder Bill is such a chipper guy, Kyle, with a son like you. This was a phenomenal essay and expresses a critical idea. Mathematically, it goes like this: 1 > 0. Despising the State, and explaining why, has become a full-time occupation among most so-called freedom fighters. That’s too easy; of course it’s despicable. The hard part is to build something, which is what it’s all about anyway. The reason the State is despicable, in the end, is precisely because it stops the building. It’s inherently a destroyer, operating inherently on a death philosophy. No wonder so many people die from its principles and actions…hundreds of millions in the last century alone.

    “You cannot rid the world of cannibals by eating them” and you cannot end all the destroying, with destruction. This is basic, and you are right.

    To Jesse, I’d just point out that you can’t convince people who don’t want to be convinced. They have no allegiance to rationality, so logic won’t help. A lot of people only know what they see, so they have to be shown. That’s what’s so important about Kyle’s essay. Remember, nothing succeeds like success.

    Anyway, this essay is really something IMO. Hopefully people will take notice and it’ll be the beginning of the beginning.

    1. Jim,

      Kind words indeed and he is an inspiration to me always. I have really lost my taste in trying to convince folks to be free; in fact, maybe they don’t deserve nor would they know how to maintain it.

  4. “The godfathers of our ideology have indisputably won the argument for freedom. Spooner, Bastiat, Mises, Rothbard, Friedman, I salute you.”

    Impressive article. Thank you. Must disagree, however, with the inclusion of Friedman in this otherwise august short list. He was a privileged academic and statist who collaborated with the political enablers of fiat currency, legal tender laws, and the income tax. He does not belong in the company of Lysander.

    My 2 bits.

    1. Andrew,

      I agree but in Kyle’s defense I think he is referring to David and his son. Yes, the moneterists were statists and it was Milton who gave us the income tax withholding concept during the War to Save Josef Stalin. Kyle was one of the students who managed to get David Friedman to come to UI and speak about the privatization of justice.

  5. andrew – i was in fact referring to david friedman. 🙂

    all – thank you for the kind comments! one thing i wanted to add that i didn’t quite say in the article is that another reason that spending all of our energy just to convert believers is useless is that unless we can increase the rate at which we are converting to the point that it is rising above the rate at which sheep are being born, we will never win! simple math, and i think it’s pretty obvious it’s a losing strategy.

    also, i thought of another way reputation can help us. what if we built a reputation system for doctors – could we make it so prominent and reliable that people no longer would have a justification for the existence of the AMA? just a thought.

  6. Good essay, Kyle!

    Building the Agora is job #1 for free humans. Using alternatives to Federal Reserve Coupons in the Agora is of equal importance.

    Ostracism is the way to handle these Statist thugs, and others who would cause us harm. Did you ever read my free-market ideas for the problem of abortion?

  7. Kyle,
    Great article. I have been reading this site for about eight months and I have been wondering what the “How” would be. Don’t get me wrong, the arguments presented here are enormously compelling and have challenged me, but I have wondered and been frustrated by what can be done. This little act of civil (genteel?) obedience will go a long way to challenging the state’s monopoly on punitive measures.

  8. Wow Kent! That was a great article!

    It seems to me the only way free men might have a chance is if they gather together. One liberty lover in a community of complacency would have a hard time trying to build the agora. If he was the sole business owner in his statist community practicing ostracism, how long do you think he would remain in business? The local tyrants would not have it. What are the thought of the individuals here on gathering together to stoke the flames of freedom? It looks like the free state project is making some real progress.

    Bill, I have pondered ex-pat ideas for awhile now. The thought that always stops me is, “how long can we run from our own minds?”

  9. There is much we agree on, but the question remains how and when will people in general be ready to enter into a rhizome-like social structure of decentralized nominally un-managed interaction. Could it be there is some sort of evolutionary step for the human race to yet take before they can fully enter that place.

  10. “There is much we agree on, but the question remains how and when will people in general be ready to enter into a rhizome-like social structure of decentralized nominally un-managed interaction.”

    When they’re ready. Till then, they can eat shit and die. Not that it matters, but let’s not forget…that’s what they’re demanding of you, even now.

    “Could it be there is some sort of evolutionary step for the human race to yet take before they can fully enter that place.”

    On the “human race” level, yes…it’s called learning, or understanding, or recognizing. That’s why all this is happening now. Effectively the totality of human knowledge is available to everyone at the click of a mouse.

    On the more important individual level, it’s what you already did—Grow up.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top